Beta blockers can repair malformed blood vessels in the brain

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Propranolol, a drug that is efficacious against infantile haemangiomas (“strawberry naevi,” resembling birthmarks), can also be used to treat cerebral cavernous malformations, a condition characterised by misshapen blood vessels in the brain and elsewhere. This has been shown by researchers at Uppsala University in a new study published in the scientific journal Stroke.

“Up to now, there’s been no drug treatment for these patients, so our results may become hugely important for them,” says Peetra Magnusson of the University’s Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, who headed the study.

Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs, also called cavernous angiomas or cavernomas) are vascular lesions on blood vessels in the brain and elsewhere, caused by genetic changes that may be hereditary or arise spontaneously. Today, an operation to remove these lesions is the only possible treatment. However, surgical interventions in the brain are highly risky. Since the vascular malformations, moreover, recur in the hereditary form of the condition, a drug treatment for CCMs is urgently required instead.

The uses of propranolol, a beta blocker, include treating cardiovascular diseases and conditions, such as high blood pressure. But it can also be used to treat a haemangioma (“strawberry naevus”), a common blood-vessel malformation in children…

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